The Hours (no bonus nose required)
Post Logo

Lauri D Goldenhersh

Connector-in-Chief, Lauri's List

The Hours (no bonus nose required)

A small, but unsurprising confession: The Hours by Michael Cunningham is one of my favorite books, without the powerhouse 2002 film adaptation. I'm watching Kevin Puts' opera adaptation for The Met, which premiered last year, on PBS tonight, and it's just beautiful. (And no, Joyce DiDonato did not seem to require prosthetics to play the role of Virginia Woolf. She and her nose are magnificent on their own, as usual.) All three of the main actresses -- Ms. DiDonato as well as Renée Fleming and Kelli O'Hara -- are well cast and play their roles with unnerving depth. (They sing rather spectacularly, too.) The staging is simultaneously ethereal and other-worldly while keeping its characters firmly grounded in their own tortuous realities. Almost the entire cast seems to be at their best, and it's so nice to see countertenor John Holiday spotlighted in such an inventive and indelibly moving way, playing multiple characters as a sort of evolving, one-man Greek chorus, commenting on and illuminating the action. Supporting actors Kathleen Kim, Sylvia D'Eramo (well-known to LA Opera fans in recent years), Sean Panikkar and especially Kyle Ketelsen really stand out, but all are compelling. Here's the trailer:

YouTube: 'The Hours' trailer - Great Performances

Brava to the creators, the cast, the designers, the designers, the musicians in the pit, et. al. This is such a powerful story with a structure that is so unusual, and I had a small fear that bringing it to the stage would unravel its interwoven genius. The main characters are developed more deeply by showing the parallels in their lives, with common threads that include joy, fear, kisses, pretending, love, loneliness, family, searching, creativity... and flowers, of course, symbolizing beauty, joy, frailty and desperation all at once. The Hours holds up a mirror to examine our assumptions, our human frailty, and hopefully... our ability to survive the rough stuff. As sad as it is, I have always found the ending hopeful, which is the definition of good tragedy IMHO. This production does right by the original source, bringing the important bits to life and showing how much we are all connected, even when we have no idea of such an invisible bond. ("Part of each other, part of people we've never met.") This stage version states explicitly that no one is alone, regardless of our own perceptions. But this multifaceted story also addresses the creative compulsion in several very specific ways, e.g. Richard's plaintive declaration,

I wanted to make something good. Something true. It didn't have to be great...

Whether you've ever tried to make a book, a poem, a cake, a bouquet or a life, I hope you'll check out this opera. I believe they've made something great. I'll definitely be re-reading the connected books: The Hours, of course, as well as Mrs Dalloway and a couple of other Virginia Woolf treasures that I'm dying to trip through again. I guess there is a little Laura Brown in me, always reading...

Thanks, all, and thank you to PBS SoCal for a surprising way to spend a thoughtful and memorable St. Patrick's Day. ☘️

Read more about the PBS presentation here

More about 'The Hours' on The Met's website

Liked by